Japanese auto major Nissan Motor has said that it is committed to India and after a successful run of the Magnite sports utility vehicle (SUV) here, it is starting a new journey with hybrid vehicles, to be launched in future. The company recently showcased three global models for the first time- X-Trail, Qashqai and Juke – some of which are getting tested for the Indian market. businessline caught up with Joni Paiva, Divisional Vice President for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania, Nissan Motor, who shared the company’s views on new technologies, hybrids and electrification. Edited excerpts follow.
How big is the Indian market, and what role does it play in your region?
Among the African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Oceania markets, India is the largest market in terms of size. It is very important as there is a lot of attention, and I am pleased with what we have done recently with the success of the Magnite, and that is why we are showcasing global products here.
Magnite has been there for more than two years and you don’t have any other product. How fast are you bringing these new vehicles?
I understand the willingness to grow faster, but the company has been prioritising resources globally. The shut down because of the pandemic was a big issue while developing vehicles, producing, and sending engineers abroad to validate. We send our engineers to markets like South Africa, where we have industrialised, but during the pandemic, we sent them to Japan to validate. This doesn’t allow for speed up in terms of developing the vehicles.
How do you see the global chip scenario and its impact on India?
The global chip scenario is definitely improving , so that is good news. The main hurdle we have is that it takes one part, one chip for you not able to produce a car. So, generally speaking, I think it is improving for us.
You explored exporting the ‘Made in India’ Magnite to left-hand-drive markets. What is the position now?
These are some of the studies we keep looking at, especially given the huge success we have been witnessing with Magnite. We have a very competitive, attractive vehicle. India is one of the toughest markets in the world, and being able to break through within that environment shows the potential of the product. That gives us confidence, and we have started the export to South Africa where it is well received. Based on that success, many new markets have increased demand. Currently, we are exporting to only right-hand drive markets.
What about the three vehicles that you showcased in India? Will you be making these here and exporting too?
We will be bringing these vehicles to India to test the market and accessibility. The X-Trail will be the first one to be brought here as a completely built unit (CBU), and these vehicles are being tested by our Japanese engineers. We are not planning to fail the tests.
Is there a timeline that you can share for the first product (X-Trail) launch?
It’s too early to predict that. But we are testing the vehicles in-depth to meet the quality and demand of Indian customers. These vehicles are packed with the latest technology and greatest features.
If you bring these vehicles as CBUs, do you think the costs will be too high because of the taxes involved?
For now, it’s too early to talk about pricing and volumes, which is why we are showcasing and testing the vehicles. We are not committing to any semi-knocked down or assembling of these vehicles here. We are studying all these things in parallel and will share details later.
In India, hybrids do not enjoy the tax benefits that EVs do. Do you think that will be a challenge when you launch your hybrid products, which are also CBUs?
This is part of the studies that we are doing. But, we shouldn’t think about the products in terms of just enjoying taxes or benefits. I think we try to bring the best products that meet the needs of the customers. The rest can change and evolve, but they are having quality products with great innovation. That’s something certain.
What do you think of electrification in India? Many European companies and our home-grown companies too are competing now.
Electrification requires three things to happen – the first is the range anxiety that you need to overcome, and the technologies allowing better range. The second thing to align is the price of the product, which in some markets, is growing faster because of affordability: some markets give incentives, while some lower the duties. These are things that move along within the market. And, the third stance is market acceptance.
Would you prefer for hybrids in the SUV range for driving the market?
We are a pioneer in electrification so we master that very well. For our Mission 2030 plan, we have planned both – the best of SUVs and electrification. The vehicles we showcased here also demonstrate Nissan’s committment to India.